The Bishop of Rochester has been accused of pandering to hate and homophobia after calling on homosexuals to repent. Michael Nazir-Ali provoked outrage among gay groups when he urged Church leaders to stick to traditional values instead of being swayed by “culture and trends”.
While calling for the “traditional teaching” of the Bible to be upheld, the Bishop said of homosexuals: “We want them to repent and be changed.”
His controversial remarks were published just hours after more than half a million people, including the Prime Minister’s wife, Sarah, took part in the Gay Pride parade in London.
Sharon Ferguson, of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, condemned Dr Nazir-Ali for making comments that she said would encourage hatred.
“It feeds to the more fundamental individuals who are looking to have their opinions ratified and speak hatefully and behave hatefully,” she said.
“His comments are likely to cause more of a schism within the Church of England. He’s saying their [gays and lesbians] sexuality is a sin. It’s not. It’s a gift from God. God made us all.”
She added: “He is telling people ‘You have to repent’ for something they have no control over. It’s like asking someone to repent because they have blue eyes.”
Peter Tatchell, the gay rights campaigner, said he was “shocked” at the level of anti-gay prejudice voiced by the bishop. “Homophobia is a social and moral evil, just like racism. Bigotry, even in the guise of religion, has no place in a compassionate, caring society,” he said. “I call on the bishop to repent his homophobia. His prejudice goes against Christ’s gospel of love and compassion.”
Labour MEP Michael Cashman accused the Bishop of Rochester of being “selective” about which parts of the Bible he upheld. “When he calls for the closure of all the banks, finance houses and credit card companies because of what it says in the Bible about usury, then I’ll take him seriously,” he said. “Until then, unless he can say anything good, he should shut up.”
In his comments, made to a Sunday newspaper, the bishop said homosexuals should be welcomed into the Church but that a person’s sexual nature could only be correctly expressed in a heterosexual union within marriage. His remarks reopened the row over homosexuality that has for years threatened to tear the Anglican Church apart.
He made them on the eve of today’s official launch of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans at Westminster Central Hall in London where he is expected to speak in support of the organisation. The UK branch of the Fellowship is regarded by many liberals within the Anglican movement as an attempt to create a church within a church with the aim of heading off moves to ease rules on homosexuality. Dr Nazir-Ali is to step down in the autumn and he is expected to play an important part in the Fellowship’s activities.
The Very Rev Colin Slee, the Dean of Southwark and a prominent liberal, was so alarmed by the the impending departure of Dr Nazir-Ali from the See of Rochester that he described it as “clearly a move towards a sectarian alternative church intentionally designed to create turbulence in the Anglican Communion”.
Canon Chris Sugden, of the Fellowship, said a message from the Queen will be read out during the ceremony but a Buckingham Palace spokeswoman called it nothing more than a “standard response” to the many requests made to the monarch each year. “It isn’t endorsing anyone’s point of view,” she said.
Zeal of the convert: The Bishop of Rochester
*Michael Nazir-Ali has been one of the most vocal and controversial of bishops of the past decade and has rarely been afraid to speak out.
He was a leading contender to become Archbishop of Canterbury when George Carey stood down but has found himself at odds with Rowan Williams, the incumbent.
The issue of homosexuality has been one of the biggest causes of friction between Dr Nazir-Ali, the Bishop of Rochester, and the liberal wing of the Anglican Church.
In 2008 the rift was so marked that he boycotted the Lambeth Conference, a meeting of Anglican Church leaders held once a decade, because of the row over homosexuality. He is part of an evangelical wing urging the Church to stick to a traditional interpretation of the scriptures regarded by liberals, especially on the issues of homosexuality and women priests, as backward.
This year he announced he would step down as Bishop of Rochester in September to allow him time to concentrate on representing the Church in parts of the world where Anglicans are a minority religion or oppressed.
Born in Pakistan to Catholic parents, he converted at the age of 20 and holds dual British and Pakistani nationality. Appointed the 106th Bishop of Rochester in 1994, he was the first non-white diocesan bishop in the Church of England. Since then he has been a frequent critic of the rise of Islam in Britain.
NEW DELHI: After the Delhi High Court’s landmark verdict decriminalising gay sex, the matter is now in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s court – on whether to amend the archaic law dealing with the issue.
Home minister P Chidambaram along with his cabinet colleagues law minister Veerappa Moily and health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Friday held meeting to analyse Delhi High Court’s judgement decriminalising same gender sex.
Emerging out of the half-an-hour long meeting held at North Block, Moily said the trio will submit their report to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
“We met today and analysed the judgment and will submit our report to the Prime Minister,” he said.
See India’s PM to take view on decriminalising gay sex
Times of India
A top court in the Indian capital of New Delhi yesterday overturned a colonial-era law banning gay sex between consenting adults as the world’s biggest democracy struggles to balance tradition and modernity.
In a strongly worded statement, New Delhi’s High Court ruled that the 150-year-old statute prohibiting homosexual acts was discriminatory and therefore a “violation of fundamental rights.”
“It cannot be forgotten that discrimination is antithesis of equality and that it is the recognition of equality which will foster dignity of every individual,” the court said in a 105-page judgment.
Quoting India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, Justice A.P. Shah said: “Words are magic things often enough, even the magic of words sometimes cannot convey magic of human spirit and of a nation’s passion.”
The ruling applies only to New Delhi and to adults older than 18. But federal government ministers are also in the process of reviewing the law.
JUDGING by the flurry of letters and online posts after recent events, conservatives have been worrying about possible efforts to lobby the Government to relax the OB markers on homosexuality.
Yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng made it clear this would not happen. “The Government was not going to be pressured into changing its position on homosexuality before the takeover of Aware (the Association of Women for Action and Research). Nor does the Government intend to change its position now that the Old Guard has recaptured Aware,” he said in response to questions put to him by Today.
.And that position — as stated by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in Parliament in October 2007, and reiterated by Mr Wong — is this: “Singapore is basically a conservative society and … a heterosexual stable family is the norm.”
.At the same time, homosexuals are “entitled to their private lives”. See No change in Govt’s stance towards gays
TODAYonline * Tags = gay men gay news lesbian news transgender bisexual
Reykjavik – Social Democrat Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir, who swept to victory in Iceland’s snap election this weekend, is a gay feminist seen as one of the country’s most skillful politicians.
“Our time has come,” the 66-year-old Sigurdardottir told cheering supporters in her victory speech after Saturday’s general election, called just seven months after Iceland’s economic meltdown.
Nicknamed “Saint Johanna” for her relentless defence of social causes, she was appointed prime minister on February 1 after the previous government led by the conservative Independence Party resigned amid massive protests over the financial sector crash that pushed Iceland to the brink of bankruptcy. See ‘Saint Johanna’, Iceland’s gay feminist PM
Gordon Brown has condemned California’s ban on gay marriage as “unacceptable” and warned people to be vigilant against all forms of discrimination.
The prime minister said the ban, backed in a referendum in the US state in November, would “undo” much of recent progress made in tackling prejudice.
California became the 28th US state to prohibit gay marriage, overturning an earlier court ruling legalising it.
Same-sex civil partnerships became law in the UK in 2005.
Civil partnerships gave gay partners the same tax and inheritance rights as heterosexual married couples.
Mr Brown made the comments at a reception in Downing Street for leading figures from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
Nearly 20,000 gay couples have married in California since same-sex unions were legalised in May and the state authorities have said these will remain valid.
The referendum, which gained 52% support, called for the state’s constitution to be amended to include the stipulation that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognised”.
Mr Brown said “this attempt to undo good that has been done is unacceptable”.
He added: “This shows why we have always got to be vigilant, always got to fight homophobic behaviour and any form of discrimination.”
He also praised equality campaigners in the UK for “changing opinion” about same-sex unions.
“You have shown how the legislative process, by your pressure, can respond,” he said.
Icelandic Social Affairs Minister Johanna Sigurðardottir would be the world’s first openly gay leader if she becomes Prime Minister of Iceland, as is widely expected. Although Per-Kristian Foss served as acting Prime Minister in Norway very briefly in 2002, this represents the first time that a gay leader would assume the reins of a modern state.
As has been extensively reported, Iceland is in the midst of an economic and political crisis that has brought down the ruling coalition of Geir Haarde. Although elections have been called for in May, Mr. Haarde has announced that he will step down because of the discovery of a malignant tumor on his esophagus earlier this week. See World On Verge Of Getting First Openly Gay Prime Minister
Prime Minister Gordon Brown has released a statement ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day tomorrow, the international day of remembrance for the victims of the Holocaust and other genocides.
HMD is marked each year on 27 January – the anniversary of the date of the liberation of Nazi death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau.
“The theme of this Holocaust Memorial Day is Standing up to Hatred,” Mr Brown said.
“We all like to think that we know what we would do in the face of hatred – that in a moment of decision we would honour our obligations to resist brutality and to stand with its victims.